THEY are the two heavyweight actors who backed a Hampshire pub in its battle with Hollywood lawyers.

Now Stephen Fry and Sir Ian McKellen have gone one step further in their support for The Hobbit – by helping financially.

The duo, who used Twitter to publicly get behind the popular Southampton pub after the USbased Saul Zaentz Company fired off a letter pointing out trademark infringements, have pledged to dip in to their own pockets to cover a proposed $100-ayear charge.

Landlady Stella Roberts was unavailable for comment last night but a message on The Hobbit’s Twitter feed announced that Sir Ian McKellen and Stephen Fry “will be paying the licence fees” adding: “We are a happy pub.”

Stephen Fry has said on his own Twitter account that he is “very pleased that The Hobbit pub appears to be safe” and that he hoped he and Sir Ian McKellen had “helped common sense prevail”.

Both actors are set to appear in a big screen version of JRR Tolkien’s classic.

The 20-year-old Bevois Valley pub had been backed by around 50,000 people in an online campaign when it looked as though its future could be threatened.

Now it looks certain that The Hobbit will be able to keep its distinctive name and carry on serving its popular cocktails named after characters like Gandalf and Gollum.

A charity aimed at preserving the legacy of JRR Tolkein hopes a line can be drawn under the dispute between the pub and the Hollywood production firm.

The Tolkien Society, an educational organisation created in 1969 to encourage interest in the author’s life and works, said last night it hopes the pub and the Saul Zaentz Company will reach “an amicable resolution”.

Ian Spittlehouse, the society’s acting secretary, said: “The Hobbit is much loved by students and Tolkien fans as a venue in Southampton.

“It would be a shame for such a local landmark to suffer.

“A swift resolution will allow the patrons of The Hobbit, and indeed the Tolkien community at large, to continue to celebrate the literary legacy left by the Professor.”